Royal Reels: Gambling


It is not surprising that considerable incoming and outgoing mail exists for Australian stamp dealers, particularly for William Ackland. This mail would be partly for the consignment of stamps, but also for the dissemination of catalogues. In addition to Ackland, the names of Fred Hagen and J.H. Smyth are commonly seen. William Ackland (1872-1953) was the senior charter member of the Australian Stamp Dealers’ Association (A.S.D.A.) who operated a stamp business in Melbourne since 1892 for 60 years, and he accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience which he shared with his customers, philatelists and fellow dealers. In the 1920s he began regular publication of priced catalogues to advertise his stock. His outgoing mail was characterised by the handstruck purple oval WM. ACKLAND/ STAMP IMPORTER (Figure 1).

His earliest catalogue seen was Ackland’s Priced Catalogue of Stamps. British Empire and Foreign Countries 1927, but this was not the first edition as the title page had “Previous catalogues are hereby cancelled.” The Australasian section was relatively specialised and provided collectors with a useful checklist. Later, in the 1930s, Ackland branched out to produce catalogues of various omnibus issues (1935 KGV Silver Jubilee, 1937 Coronation of KGVI), and from at least 1939 began Ackland’s Special Catalogue of Australian Commonwealth Stamps. In 1954 he issued his Simplified Catalogue of Stamps of the Australian Commonwealth and Australian States, and his address was then given as Altson’s Building, Cnr. Elizabeth & Collins Streets, Melbourne C1 (Figure 2).

William Ackland was not above sending a philatelically contrived registered cover to himself as shown by this over-the-top cover. It has six examples of the North West Pacific Islands overprinted stamps composed of three KGV head stamps: green ½d, red 1d and orange 4d, as well as three ‘Roo on Map of Australia’ stamps: grey 2d, blue 2½d and olive 3d. In addition there were six examples of the NAURU overprinted KGV stamps of Great Britain: two green ½d, two red 1d and two blue 2½d, that replaced the N.W.P.I. overprints. Whereas the NAURU overprints were cancelled by the PLEASANT ISLAND/ 31 MR/ 18/ NAURU, the NWPI overprints were uncanceled, which was surely an unfortunate oversight. In addition, there were two hand strikes, a violet boxed Registered Nauru with a red manuscript ‘84′ as well as a purple double-boxed WM. ACKLAND/ FOREIGN STAMP IMPORTER/ 267 Collins Street/ Melbourne, in addition to the crossed red crayon markings (Figure 3).

The reverse showed a reception postmark REGISTERED/ 3/ 430 P-6 AP 18/ MELBOURNE (Figure 4).

The Victorian section of ASDA is pictured at a dinner held prior to their monthly meeting. The photograph was taken in late 1948, just a few months after the Association was established. William Ackland is shown seated, second from the right (Figure 5).

In January1953, ASDA lost its oldest, inaugural member with the death of William Ackland at the age of 80. A close-up photo of William Ackland is shown in Figure 6.

I acknowledge that this information is derived from the ASDA website and from The Australian Philatelist, June 1988, pp. 45-6, a copy of which was provided by Ben Palmer of Sydney.

Addendum (April 2010):  Three more covers were seen .  The first was an example showing that he sold philatelic items around the world.  It has his return address of 267 Collins St., Melbourne, a red registration label of  Elizabeth St., Melbourne  with 3 orange 4d KGV and 2 brown 1 1/2d  KGV stamps and a pair of the milky blue 6d ‘Roo on map of Australia stamps addressed to Finland (Figure 7).

The next 2 covers were self addressed, the first a red 1d KGV embossed stamp with a pair of the chocolate brown 1 1/2d and a single green 1/2d KGV stamps with a red Bulin Bulin East registration label and postmarked BULIN BULIN / MR 21/ 19/ VICTORIA (Figure 8).

The third cover was philatelically contrived for one of the red 1d KGV stamps was a cut half with another entire copy, postmarked with a roller MELBOURNE 20 NO 18  4 30A  cancel (Figure 9),

Ackland had operated a stamp business in Melbourne since 1892 and over a period of 60 years he had accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with his customers and fellow dealers.

Addendum (September 2010):  Ackland prepared and sent to himself many covers, and this one with 10 N.W. PACIFIC ISLANDS overprints on ‘Roo on Map of Australia’ and ‘KGV Head’ stamps with values ranging from ½d up to 1/- were cancelled RABAUL/ 10 FE 17.  It has a Rabaul Deutsch-Neuguinea registration label, a purple double oval ‘The Treasury Rabaul’ handstamp and a [Crown]/  Passed Censor/ Rabaul, as well as his Melbourne address handstamp (Figure 10).

Categories: Philatelists